SAT Math: Challenging Questions

Aaron Jiang ’23

Nervous atmosphere enriched with a tight schedule filled with things to do, which permeates throughout the remainder of this fall season. Well, happy fall fellow Salesians! The above statements that concerns none other save for the upperclassmen is exactly our focus in today’s discussion. Actually, the juniors could care less(not for long). If you still haven’t figured out what I intend to allude to, it’s the Scholastic Aptitude Test, which is one of the most vital portions of the college admissions process(Don’t let your guard down, it’s still relevant). I hate it, you hate it, and that same vibe is arguably shared by high schoolers in our country. All more or less ought to give it some stress if not major ones. Therefore, I do intend, to the best of my ability, to alleviate some of that stress by reviewing some challenging, but common questions that the SAT Math will hurl your way. Without further talks, we go!

Go ahead, take your time to view this first one! This formula that they threw at your face might seem intimidating if you’ve never worked with it before. However, that’s beside the point. Since it’s asking for which are true, all you have to do is go one by one to confirm all of them! For example, the first statement is actually pretty straightforward. Since in the equation, 5/9 is being multiplied to (F-32), this entails that any change of one in the F, will be a change of 5/9 in the C. In other words, if F is increased by one, C will be increased by 5/9! For those less inclined to math, you can even do the long way to be sure. Plug in zero for F to see the C, which will be -160/9. Then plug in one for F to simulate the “increase by one”, which will be -155/9. See! This means that it’s an increase of 5/9 in C as F increases by one. Therefore, we can move on to statement two. We could also apply this similar method of simulating that “increase by one” to test. For instance, plug 0 in for C, which will give 32 for F. Next, plug in one for C to get 33.8. The difference will be 1.8, which confirms statement two as an answer. Statement directly contradicts statement one, which we test to be true, henceforth it is wrong. The answer is D. All of this amounts to one minute of work believe it or not. With enough practice, these are just mental maths that you can do in your sleep.


Well, if that one felt easy, have a taste of this type of question! At first glance, those less mathematically inclined will see it as a complete nightmare, which I do understand. However, if you take a look at this question carefully, some terms on the right side have already been divided by (ax-2). In other words, if you multiply them back again to match the right side, you’ll get to the equation 24x^2 = -8x(ax-2) since we should only be concerned with one of the terms, and I have chosen the terms with x^2 following them. It becomes 24x^2 = -8ax^2+16x. Again now, we should be only concerned with the coefficient of the “x^2” part. Therefore after you get rid of 16x since it’s not followed by x^2, 24x^2 = -8ax^2 becomes 24 = -8a, which is a = -3. Therefore the answer is B. 

Now let’s fill our minds with some geometry. It is a rare topic on SAT Math since they are heavily populated by algebraic questions instead. However, it’s good to brush on geometry questions too. This question can either be the easiest or the hardest depending on how well you’ve paid attention in your geometry class and retention of some of the skills previously learned. The length of the arc is π/3, which is 60 degrees. Remember π equals 180 degrees. They want to know the ratio of that arc length to the circumference. In other words, it’s 60/360. Remember that 360 degrees is a full revolution on a circle. The answer is therefore 1/6 that you’ll grid in on the actual exam. Not too bad isn’t it?

So there you have it: a few challenging questions to get the taste of SAT Math! Before the end of this, I will like to state the importance of studying these questions especially if you are aiming for a perfect score. The SAT Math loves to present these types of questions that’s very different from traditional math tests. They are quite creative I’ll say. Good luck to all those seniors getting in their last effort to improve that SAT score. Believe in your ability!